April 24, 2018
Senator Lankford Responds to Senator Schumer’s Hypocrisy on Gridlock Reform Rules Proposal
Lankford: “The rules proposal that the Minority Leader is opposing is the exact same rules proposal that he actually voted for in 2013”
WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today delivered a floor speech in response to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) criticism of Lankford’s gridlock reform Senate rules change resolution (S. Res. 355), which will be voted on in the Rules Committee tomorrow. In 2013, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) introduced this same resolution solely for the duration of the 113th Congress (2013-2014); it passed with bipartisan support, 78-16 and was supported by nearly every Democrat, including Senator Schumer. Today, Senator Schumer opposes the exact proposal he touted just five years ago.
Currently, Senate Democrats have slowed down the Senate and forced cloture votes on 85 Trump administration nominees, forcing prolonged debate before the Senate confirmed them. The previous four Presidents combined had only 15 nominees confirmed after a cloture vote at this point in their terms. As of today, there are currently 139 executive, 57 district court, and 10 circuit court nominations waiting for Senate confirmation.
To permanently improve the efficiency of the Senate and confirm more nominees, Lankford’s resolution would simply reduce debate time for most executive branch nominees from 30 hours down to eight hours, and district court nominees from 30 hours to two hours. The resolution maintains the 30 hours of post-cloture debate time for Supreme Court, Circuit Court, and Cabinet-level nominees.
(00:00-1:49) Mr. President, earlier today, the Minority Leader came to the floor to talk about multiple issues. During that conversation, he called me out by name and a rules proposal that I have in front of the Rules Committee this week, saying he vehemently disagrees with that rules proposal, and he mentioned even that he knows I came here in 2014 and I should study the history of the Senate a little bit more before I bring up a rules proposal. Well, I would only tell you, I have studied the history a little bit and would like to get a little bit of context around those comments. The rules proposal that the Minority Leader is opposing is the exact same rules proposal that he actually voted for in 2013 when he was on the Rules Committee and then voted for again when it came to the floor of the Senate. This is not some radical proposal. Democrats in 2013 found it intolerable what was happening with the nomination process. And so at the beginning of 2013, they worked with Republicans and said, we need to be able to put a structure in place to be able to get nominations through because a President should be able to have his staff put in place and there shouldn’t be an arbitrary slowdown through that process. Republicans came on board, even during a very contentious time as Republicans did not agree with the policies of President Obama and said we would agree. With a vote of 78 total votes, 78 votes on the floor of the Senate, a rule change was made that was proposed by Senator Reid, supported by Senator Schumer, supported by Senator McConnell to say this is a rule change that would go into place. It was a very simple rule.
(2:58-3:48) Fast forward to today. Today we have a historic new precedent that’s been set for any President coming in. That was absolutely not done by Republicans in the past and it was absolutely not done by Democrats in the past. But it is being done now. Right now, there are 67 judges pending and 139 executive nominees pending. 139. In just the past year and a few months, Democrats have requested 85 cloture votes. That is asking for an additional 30 hours of debate time. And they can say well, these nominees need to be vetted. These are all nominees that have already gone through the committee process, have already waited in line. There’s been a tremendous amount of invest of vetting.
(8:01-8:50) If there’s another proposal that we can have, I’m glad to be able to have that conversation. I’m not looking to make it contentious. I’m trying to actually solve a bad precedent. Because the precedent that’s now been set by the minority party right now will be the new precedent when the next President comes. So the next time there’s a Democrat President, I can assure you Republicans will say, well, we’ll just do the same thing Democrats did to the Republican president. We’ll do to the next Democrat President. And year after year this toxic environment gets worse. The only way to dial the volume back is to actually fix the rules, to be able to make sure they stay fair for everyone. Again, this is not a partisan move for me. This is trying to get the Senate to actually function and work again.